February 11, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: Sun embraces Linux, public doesn't embrace Microsoft

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Sun Microsystems this week announced new initiatives designed to embrace Linux, including, apparently, a Sun-produced Linux operating system. The details are a still a bit sketchy, but the initiatives would also "broaden the offerings of Linux on low-end Sun servers."

One Sun exec (in the first link above) suggested the move was part of a "war against Microsoft." On the other hand, Wired.com reported that Sun's Solaris Unix-based operating system would still be the company's top priority. It seems like Sun will continue to have an odd relationship with the Open Source community -- embracing Linux and spearheading the StarOffice project, while at the same time pushing its own proprietary OS. Still, the company's stock rating got a boost on its Linux announcement, and its stock rose more than 5% Friday, even though that boost wasn't enough to recover losses from earlier in the week.

Public on Microsoft settlement: No thanks

For a company that has its products used by something like 90% of the U.S. computer-using public, Microsoft hasn't fared very well in the public comment portion of its proposed antitrust settlement. About 15,000 of those who commented opposed the proposed settlement, while only 7,500 wrote in support of it. Another 7,000 comments or so were thrown out for not being pertinent or coherent enough. Now what kind of person or Web site would encourage the public to oppose the deal?

We'll see what effect all these comments have on the Bush administration Department of Justice's rush to settle the case. Don't hold your breath, but a NewsFactor Network story suggested the comments may change the outcome of the settlement.

Which is more secure, Linux or Windows?

VNUnet.com and others reported statistics from SecurityFocus saying several Linux distributions had more vulnerabilities than Windows reported in the first half of 2001. Of course, Linux backers responded by saying that sometimes statistics lie.

In other news ....

A preemptable kernel patch proposed by MontaVisa Software has made it into the Linux kernel. Read more for an explanation of "preemptable."

Professor Ed Felten and his research partners dropped their lawsuit against the music industry and U.S. government. Felten and crew were suing because music industry big-wigs had threatened to prosecute the research team under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act if the team published its research on anti-copying technologies.

The Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman and Ximian's Miguel de Icaza conducted a very public debate based on reports that de Icaza says Gnome's Mono project would be based on Microsoft's .Net. The short answer from de Icaza's long answer: The original report was a bit misleading.

Red Hat's chairman Bob Young told ZDNet that Linux might never rule the desktop. Of course, there's a bit more to the story than that; basically, Young was suggesting that desktops may not be all that important in the future, but the Internet will, and that's where Linux and Open Source will rule.

New releases

Version 0.9.8 of the Mozilla browser was released this week.

Newly reviewed

NewsForge's Tina Gasperson reviewed the Quasar accounting package for Linux and found it quite easy to use.

F. Grant Robertson wrote a fairly controversial review of the Fluxbox window manager, especially his comparisons to Blackbox. Check out the discussion.

We also reviewed the XFce desktop environment and liked it as much as KDE or Gnome.

Success story of the week

Further evidence of government support of Open Source: A South African government council praised Open Source and detailed the translation of the KDE project into the near dozen languages used in the country. Also, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding an Open Source bug hunt.

New at NewsForge and Linux.com

Other stories that NewsForge and Linux.com reported first this week:

In a really fun read, Robin "Roblimo" Miller features John Weathersby's Open-Source Software Institute and its efforts to win government contracts for Open Source projects.

Swedish lawyer and Open Source advocate Mikael Pawlo talks about how governments should encourage Open Source companies to bid on projects.

Russell Pavlicek describes how to use cheap Mailstations and Linux to provide cheap email.

Stock news

The Nasdaq ended the week at 1,818.88, down nearly 100 points from the Feb. 1 close of
1,911.24, and that's even counting a 37-point rally on Friday. Our list of Open Source-related stocks didn't do any better; of the 11, only MandrakeSoft posted a gain for the week, although most rebounded partially on Friday.

There wasn't much news coming out of Open Source-related companies, but we thought it interesting that Borland joined the Business Software Alliance, which, among other things, goes after software users for license violations.

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 2/1 Close 2/8 Close
Apple AAPL 24.41 24.03
Borland Software Int'l BORL 16.91 16.65
Caldera International CALD 0.83 0.68
Hewlett-Packard HWP 22.00 20.40
IBM IBM 108.00 104.99
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e4.00 e5.20
Red Hat RHAT 8.45 7.88
Sun Microsystems SUNW 10.37 9.75
TiVo TIVO 5.86 5.56
VA Software LNUX 2.315 2.06
Wind River Systems WIND 18.05 16.69
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